There have been several people who asked me about the writing process. I want you to share your story, I want you to know that although publishing takes work, it’s not impossible. I’m a very imperfect, normal person who self published a book. If I can do it, anyone can do it. This is just a brief description of the writing journey for me.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? First off I did some reading;“Published” by Chandler Bolt – he’s a little eccentric, and wants you to self publish your book (from blank page to published author) in 90 days. I am eccentric myself, and thought that sounded like a good timeline, (Ha!) but I am very happy I listened to the advice of my my boyfriend and friends who encouraged me to add a little grace period onto that. So my timeline was about 5-6 months.
The steps in his book are very modern, and easy to follow along with. I have done my own research now and again because publishing has always been a dream of mine. Nonetheless, the book is written in such a way that even someone with less understanding of the publishing world than myself can understand.
Believe it or not, I didn’t know at first that I was going to write a memoir. I had gotten a part time job nannying specifically so that I could be a little less stressed and could write a book. I thought I was going to write fiction. I’ve had, and still have, a lot of fun ideas floating around in my brain. I also thought that someday I’d write a memoir about my experience in a cult. One day, but not today! Upon looking at things that I’m most passionate about though, and the story that I thought would bring God the most glory. I kept coming back to the memoir idea. Not the medieval cursed kingdom story line or a post apocalyptic hellscape – nope, I couldn’t shake the thought that this was the one.
So I started. I started by setting a timer for 15 minutes and mind mapping; consisting of writing “my book” in the middle and then lines out for every thought that popped up in my mind. Then, I took that jumbled mess and sorted out the different items chronologically into different seasons; those seasons would be chapters. Next I took it to the computer and outlined it properly.
The other book that I was reading at these early stages was “Handling the Truth, on the making of a memoir” by Beth Kephart. Not only was this book helpful for me, but it was so elegantly written and therefore a pleasure to read. It talks about heart motives for memoir, what’s appropriate and what’s not. How to go about the whole process, sharing insight into the hard parts and social etiquette of sharing a story that also involves pieces of others’ stories. If you are writing a memoir, I strongly encourage you to at least skim this book first, I doubt you will be disappointed.
On February 7th I started my 30 day writing challenge. I had my outline detailed for 11 different chapters. I posted all over social media about my challenge and told my friends so that I would have a lot of accountability. I faltered many times but the fact that hundreds of people knew of my commitment made it a little easier to stay on track. Little note here, don’t edit while you write, or you never will finish that crappy first draft. I prioritized my morning devotions above writing (and later editing too). Writing some parts of this book were particularly painful for me, and reading scripture first reminded me of the greater picture – it reminded me of who I was writing this book for. I was very grateful to know that my friends were praying for me and I was able to talk through it in my counseling sessions. I cried many tears, thought I might not make it, but ended up finding an editor on Fiverr and submitted my VERY raw manuscript to the editor on my birthday, less than 30 days later on March 7th.
Up until that point I had only told my friends nearby the nature of what I was writing, after that long hard month was over and the book was in the first editing, is when I posted on social media about what the topic was, which was also emotional for me. I knew at that point there was no looking back.
I brainstormed many different titles (about 30 or so) and had friends read through that list so that they could suggest new ones and point out the ones they liked best. Ultimately Where the Willow Weeps was a crowd favorite.
Since I had the title I could work on cover art. Sure, I am an artist, and a good one but I wanted to pass this task on. I commissioned 4 different covers on Fiverr and settled on the one I have.
I got my first draft back and did some more edits and revisions before sending it to my family. I wanted to be forthcoming with them. Some of them are out (of the Message/Branhamism) and some are still in. Although I knew that not all would agree with the fundamentals of my memoir, I still wanted to hear them out, and decipher if there were historical inaccuracies.
I then decided to add another chapter and do extensive revisions before sending it one final time to the editor. I decided to add a personal touch so I illustrated some pictures and inserted them into the book. Somewhere during this time I started setting up my book on amazon and ordered proof copies. When I got the final copy back from the editor I ended up formatting myself even though Fiverr had many people providing that service. I scheduled a friend of mine to do a photo shoot and we were on target. I kept social media up to date and finally I clicked publish on my book.
That my dears, is the abbreviated version of the time between January and July 10th. Was it hard? Heck yeah, but the hardest part for me was the nature of the topic, not the self publishing process. There were a lot of mornings and evenings before and after work just sitting on my couch, listening to jazz and typing away. I was a lot of meticulous work, but it was worth it, and I’d do it all again. My goal for this blog post is to make the world of publishing just a little more accessible to my friends. If a normal gal like Charity Rissler can do it, then so can you.